People with dementia are 20% more likely to be rehospitalized, antipsychotic use increases risk, res

Seniors are more likely to be rehospitalized within 30 days of discharge if they have dementia, and the risk increases if they are taking an antipsychotic medication, according to recently published research findings. The study also found that discharge to a skilled nursing facility reduced hospital readmission risk when compared to discharge with home health services.

Investigators in Rhode Island analyzed about 26,000 hospitalizations that occurred during a one-year period. Medicare beneficiaries with a dementia diagnosis were nearly 20% more likely to be back in the hospital within a month than those without dementia, the researchers found.

Patients taking an antipsychotic medication in the six months before or after the initial hospital stay had a higher probability of readmission. The authors described this as a “notable” finding, and they surmised that antipsychotic use could indicate “undocumented factors” such as behavioral symptoms, which would explain heightened hospitalization risk. Their findings appear shortly after the federal government announced that long-term care providers met a national goal of reducing antipsychotic prescribing for dementia care by 15%.

The odds of readmission were higher for patients discharged to home healthcare than for people who transitioned to a skilled nursing facility, the researchers determined. This could be because home health services are not designed to compensate for factors such as impaired or absent family caregivers or mitigate unsafe houses, the authors stated.

Previous research also has linked SNF care with lower odds of rehospitalization for those with cognitive impairment.

Findings from the Rhode Island study appear in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. The authors were affiliated with Rhode Island hospitals and the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University. Brown has long been a hotspot for long-term care research, and the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living recently announced $1 million in funding to launch the Long-Term Care Quality and Innovation Center at the university’s School of Public Health.